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1st hand accounts of Sandy via Survival Blog
I thought these were interesting 1st hand accounts of Sandy and wanted to share with those who dont read

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Six Letters Re: Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports
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I'm located in central New Jersey not far from the Delaware River. In the days prior to the hurricane hitting, everyone packed the supermarkets, warehouse clubs and home improvement stores to stock up.

At the home improvement stores, the people who had best luck getting generators were those who purchased them online and selected in-store pickup. There were lines of people 100+ deep from the front of the store to the back waiting for new shipments of generators to arrive. The only people who were guaranteed anything were those who had already purchased and paid online.

For those lucky enough to get a generator, they'd have a hard time fueling it if they didn't already have gas cans and gas stored at home. The shelves were cleared of gas cans days before the storm hit.

The warehouse club that we are members of sold out of water the day before the storm hit. They normally have pallets of water on shelves up to the ceiling along the length of an entire aisle. That aisle was completely bare. They also sold out of most fruits/and vegetables that could store for a little without power. The displays that normally hold bananas and apples were bare.

Flashlights and D batteries were gone days before the storm too. The only ones that were left were plug-in rechargeable flashlights that would be of little use after the first discharge in a power outage.

My sister had luck finding a huge display of batteries at a big chain baby store. Most people went straight to the supermarkets and home improvement stores, not thinking that many other types of stores also kept basic supplies.

The winds really started to pick up Monday afternoon. There wasn't much rain, even at the height of the storm, but the winds were very strong. Our house, which is only 4 years old, shuddered a couple of times in the highest gusts. We didn't sustain any physical damage to the house, but a couple of small trees tilted over but didn't uproot or break. Some sections of vinyl fencing in our neighborhood blew out and shattered from the force of the wind.

Sections of our neighborhood started to lose power around 6 PM not long after the hurricane made landfall. Street lights were out and the power to houses across the street were out. From our upstairs windows, we watched the sky glow blue and pink in all directions as transformers blew. Every minute or so another one would blow.

Finally, around 8:30 PM, we watched a transformer light the sky up for about 30 seconds. When it finally darkened, we and the rest of our neighborhood were out of power.

I had filled our spare refrigerator in our garage with cases of water and the spare freezer with bags of ice. I also took every empty plastic jug and bottle out of our recycling bins and filled them 3/4 of the way with water and froze them in our main/spare freezers. Every inch of freezer space that wasn't packed with food was packed with an ice bottle.

I knew our refrigerator wouldn't keep food cold long, so we immediately transferred our most critical food (milk for the kids, etc.) into ice filled coolers. The main freezer with most of our frozen food and frozen water bottles was never opened. It stayed perfectly cold until the power came back on, and most of the ice bottles had barely started to thaw. The food in our ice-filled coolers also was fine. We did sacrifice non-critical food that we didn't have space for in the coolers to the garbage bin.

We lit the house with long-lasting led lanterns that definitely did the trick. We hunkered around an old battery power radio to keep up with storm news, and gave our two-year old son a spare lantern to play with, which kept him happy. With no power and little news expected until morning, we turned in early (for us) at around 10 PM.

Our furnace was out and we don't have a fireplace, so the temperature dropped to the low 60s in our house overnight. It was a little chilly, but we were comfortable enough. We were definitely lucky it wasn't colder outside.

By the morning the storm had passed and a family that we are very close friends with down the street had their generator running. We and several of our friends congregated there for the day. They had enough power for their refrigerator, several lights, a tv and cable box, and a power strip for charging phones.

Although the power was out, the cable stayed on until around noon so we were able to see the first images of storm damage. After the cable went out, most of us switched to our web-enabled smartphones and social media to stay informed and reach out to friends.

We grilled outside for lunch and dinner, with everyone pitching in food that would go bad if unused. Everyone with spare gas stored was prepared to pitch in whatever they had until the power came back on to keep the generator running. We brought over 10 gallons that wasn't needed.

Cell phone service was spotty. People who were subscribers of one the two major cell providers in our area had no problem making/receiving calls and surfing the web. Subscribers of the other major service had a signal, but couldn't make calls and their data service only worked intermittently.

The day after the storm, most traffic lights remained out. All gas stations and most stores were closed. One home improvement store opened under emergency power. They only let a limited number of people into the front part of the store where they had set up displays with their remaining emergency supplies (flashlights, batteries, power cords, and a new supply of gas cans). They surprisingly even accepted credit cards. Some other stores we checked out only accepted cash if they were open at all.

24 hours after the power went out, it came back on for most of our neighborhood. We're definitely lucky since of the 2/3 of our state that was without power, only about 15-20% of homes had been restored when we were reconnected.

It was an interesting experience for a day, but something that none of us would have been happy to have continue. We all realized, individually and as a group, what things we were missing that could have made us more comfortable.

Although we were lucky that our part of the state suffered little more than downed trees and power lines, New Jersey is very small so we all have friends in the hardest hit parts of the Jersey Shore and we are very familiar with the popular vacation spots that have been destroyed.

I've been in contact with friends who live just blocks from the beach who have raised homes and still have standing water lapping at their front doors. A few other friends live in beach neighborhoods that have essentially become islands with bridges, highways and other access roads out of service and surrounded by water. Others left some of the very hardest hit communities before the storm hit and don't know if their homes are still standing.

Some neighborhoods devastated by storm surge and flooding are now burning. Along some of the barrier islands, emergency services from the mainland are cut off and fires will likely be left to burn themselves out. Some entire towns are expected to burn.

There are a lot of people who have lost everything and many who are still in harm's way. Keep them in your prayers. Thanks, - Brad S.

I have family from Pennsylvania to Maine. I tried to encourage my family and cousins who I knew would be affected by Sandy to visit me in the mountains of New England, but they were all so sure that they could survive the storm.

Only one family had a generator. It wasn't wired into the house, so plenty of extension cords are in use there. The others had nothing at all setup. So I briefed them on filling the tub, freezing extra containers for ice, etc. And all were briefed on staying put during and after the storm.

Of course, some don't listen so well. While all survived in some fashion, here is the latest and worse from my cousin on Long Island:

"Pumping out water all day.
We had absolutely not a drop of [drinking] water. Storm surge at 830 p.m. and we were seeing it force its way in at the rate of a foot a minute!! I have never witnessed anything like that in my life!
Scary stuff!!!

We tried to hold it back just no way hydraulic pressure was just too much.
Total 10 feet of water. We jumped ship when it got to 6 feet. Then couldn't get to [deleted for OPSEC]'s house... Every path home and on every road trees were down, we didn't plan for that. We slept at a friend's aunt's house. She welcomed us (dog and all) with open arms and we are total strangers. The walls all cracked assuming will be a total loss.

We are going to call it quits soon will be back at it again tomorrow. No [phone] service so can't call our insurance company. Friends are coming from all over to help. No big deal--It is just a material asset. Insurance hopefully covers hurricanes. We are fortunate, as it could've been much worse."

He was right. They were fortunate. They could have drowned leaving during the night. They could have been injured trying to leave that location to their 'safe' house.

I suspect that the next time they will evacuate in a timely fashion. I doubt that they will ever disparage a prepared mindset again.

We can't save folks from themselves.

I will head into New York and New Jersey when possible to reach them with support. I expect to have to wait until after this coming Tuesday.

Thank you for your SurvivalBlog site! Regards, - Mike A.

Good Morning to You!
Our area of the East coast was spared the worst brunt of the storm. Massive snowfalls to our west, and massive flooding to the east. We were very fortunate.

We live on top of a hill, and by Monday morning, we had water filling our basement. I went outside with middle son, and we found a deep hole filled with water next to the foundation of our house. We dug a ditch from the edge of the hole far, far away from the edge of the hole and down the hill well past the fall line. I would estimate we dug at least 30 feet of mud. While I dug, my son took the shovels of dirt that I pulled out of the ground and put it back into the hole by the foundation. Once we were finished, we moved the drainage pipe from the gutters so that it, too, fed into the ditch we had dug away from the house. 10 more inches of rain fell over the next 24 hours, but no more of it ran into our basement.

I understand now what you mean when you say you need to be physically fit! I'm a 40 something mother of three, and my 17 year old son and I put in a good two hours worth of physical work in the driving rain, diverting water away from the house. Maybe insurance would have covered the damage if we hadn't done the work, but I prefer the effort of digging a ditch in the rain to the effort of clearing a basement of water and carpets and furniture. Best two hours worth of work I've ever done, and our house is still in one piece!

Besides the obvious water and wind damage around here, there is one thing that stuck out more and more: The number of people killed by falling trees. Tall trees close to the house really do need to be trimmed back so that damage is lessened if a tree or limb falls on a house. One gentleman told the story of how he and his father had a conversation on Saturday about how they needed to trim or cut down the tree next to the house. Then on Monday, his father was killed instantly when the tree fell on the house during high winds.

Peace to you all. - B.L.W.

The report from Delaware. With the exception of flood prone and some beach front areas we dodged the bullet.

It was an excellent exercise for our small family. The preparation for with this sort of an event turns on do you stay or leave. Different priorities for equipment supplies and staging following from each of those two choices. However what this storm brought home to us (since we have a shelter in place default ) is that within the shelter in place paradigm is,"suppose that tree falls on your house and you must leave in a hurry anyway' sub-plan. Since for us in our location Sandy was forecast to be a wind event, this latter sub-plan rose up from the back burner rather forcefully.

Now, we had to pull out and check the go bags (not seen since last year's windy scare) marshal water, food rations, range bags (did I restock those mags after the last week) , document case, comms and other take-with items by the door while preparing to deal with prolonged electrical outage (potentially weeks) therefore check generator, water reserves, fuel, etc etc..

I found that while our shelter in place preps and SOP were fairly well in hand, the "Yikes, we got-a-go now" end was pretty confused. Part of the reason for this is that we really need to have more duplicate gear stashed in the "Go now" configuration, and it was clear from this go round that we ain't there yet. I also know as I write this that I have all sorts of essential items stowed carefully labeled clearly that I will want to toss in the vehicle, but it will take me days to think through the inventory. Not something to be doing as water is cascading through a rent in the building.

So I tell you to tell me, "build the list now while it is still fresh."

One side note: We were "powerless" for only 8 hours, but as a result I am looking to replace my noisy old Generac (such a headache! The thing just roars. I must be getting old) with newer quieter Yamaha or Honda digital. While researching I found this very useful worksheet for calculating loads on the Yamaha web site.

Blessings... Pray for the folks in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey.... They have a long way to come back. - Dollardog

As per your request for info out of the New York City area: Having grown up in Florida, I kind of knew what to expect. Needless to say, I was well provisioned and my powder, so to speak, was high and dry and at the ready well in advance of Sandy's final approach...

My wife and I rode out the storm in our "Brooklyn Bunker," a fourth-floor apartment in a solid pre-war building. We spent a long night watching for the flashes of transformers exploding in the wind, and darkness encroaching as lights went out in the homes all around us. Luckily, the lights managed to stay on in our neighborhood, and we didn't lose power once. After the storm passed, we emerged to discover no major damage, some trees down on cars and roofs, limited cell phone service, but that's about it...

The same can't be said for lower Manhattan and parts of Staten Island, though. The six-foot security fence around some rental property I own there came down, right into my truck. A violent storm surge turned most of the coastal communities on the island into what looks like a war zone, with the National Guard deployed to keep order. No working street lights, no stores open, no gas. People are attempting to drive into northern New Jersey to find gas stations that have power, with little luck. Con Edison now says power will be out to 60% of the island for more than a week. My tenants are in the dark with no heat...

Looking across the East River into Lower Manhattan at night, I am reminded of my time as a journalist in New Orleans during Katrina, where I witnessed another entire American city abandoned, darkened, and brought to its knees by Mother Nature (combined with a healthy dose of human stupidity). The entire subway system here is paralyzed, and along with it commerce, and most of the city's inhabitants. There are already some rumblings on blogs and other social media platforms about the "lack of government response," like this one here, but for the most part, people have remained unusually calm and accommodating to each other, at least for New Yorkers.

As with Katrina, Sandy reminded me of just how fragile the veneer of civilization that most most city-dwellers often take for granted truly is. During the final 24 hours leading up to Sandy's arrival, lines at every major grocery store in Brooklyn and Manhattan were several blocks long, with hours-long wait times just to enter the stores and clerks taking small groups of people in to shop, just a few at a time.

Given the mentality of the average city-dweller, the run on grocery stores was to be expected. Perhaps more importantly for the SurvivalBlog readership at large, what's transpired here over the past 48 hours is nothing short of an amazing exercise in the efficacy of state control circa 2012 (much better execution than what I witnessed during Katrina). I am at once somewhat pleasantly surprised yet shockingly dismayed by just how quickly the authorities were able to shut down and subdue the country's biggest metropolis. Within a few hours, they were able to - successfully - deploy several thousand National Guard troops, shut down the country's biggest subway system, 15 major bridges and tunnels, three major airports, and cut power to eight square miles of a world-class city...all with nary a whimper nor major objection from the populace.

New Yorkers in three major boroughs were - and in the case of Lower Manhattan, still are - effectively cut off from the outside world. Moving forward, most SurvivalBlog readers like myself who either choose or are forced to reside in cities should perhaps (re)consider their long term plans and preparations given the recent tactics on display here in NYC.

Thanks and best, - KTC in NYC

Dear Jim:
Sheeple no more here. Sandy came and went. Our area is Bucks County about an hour north of Philadelphia. We border the Delaware River. Power here went out early and and only came on today.

I think we weathered it well. I was one of the last minute "run to the store" folks. Bought a gallon of milk. Everything else was in place. As soon as the power went out, I fired up our generator and hunkered down for the 70 MPH winds.

We did lose a couple of shingles and some aluminum trim on the house. Those unprepared suffered flooded basements, many areas will not have power for a week or more. Lots of trees down, snapped telephone poles, sink holes in the road. The emergency services were running 24 hours for two days. Constant sirens all over the place.

Where did I come up short? I never got around to getting my ham radio license or programming my Baofeng UV-5R. It would have come in handy to keep in touch with the others in my group. I have some Uniden walkies and they proved worthless.

At the end of the storm my wife she thanked me for being prepared. Up until this happened she kind of went alone with my "hobby". Always a little smile on her face. It's different now.

What I need to do:

Get my ham license.
Run a dedicated electrical line to the crucial items in the house. Pumps, freezer, frig, security lights.
Replace my burned out chainsaw.
Read "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" for the 12th time and update my (your) lists of lists.

Take care and God Bless, - M.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Four Letters Re: Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports
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I'm a long time reader of your blog and books. I live in Philadelphia. We have a house in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Please look at Seven Mile Island Times and Stone Harbor on Facebook for an idea of our situation there. The whole island was underwater. Our docks washed away and our boat is on the sidewalk, still chained to the trailer.

We lucked out, the house is fine and built high. We still have electricity and water in Philly. What I took away from this experience can be seen in this HuffPo article.

We were prepared: I filled the tub with water, and topped off all our [vehicle] gas [tanks] prior. A buddy of mine lost power and has no water (pump to well died). His new generator is useless because there is no gas available anywhere. He couldn't even drive to work. Thousands are in line to buy gas all across the region, cans in hand. Stations are either empty and can't rely on distribution, or their pumps are down because of power outages. A family member left NYC this morning to drive to the house in Jersey to see the damage. Despite his full tank, he didn't have enough gas and after reaching a line of cars a mile and a half long had to turn back to NY. We have our vehicles filled up and a few cans topped off. I'm the only one that can get there to see the damage first hand, going Friday myself. Things are bad, but this gas situation shocked me and I heard about it all day from friends and co workers who were in a bad way because of it. Many here were caught with nothing. No power, no water, no gas. Thanks to our preps and luck, we're fairing well. Point being, take this type of disaster seriously and encourage people you know to prepare ahead of time. Fill those fuel tanks and stabilize them! Best, - T.H.

Good Morning,
We live just north of Philadelphia in a suburban area. Because of a house fire we are living in a recreational vehicle (RV) on our property during the [insurance] settlement and restoration of our house. Prior to the storm, the RV was parked close to our apple trees (we have several acres and are blessed with a large garden and fruit trees) and so decided that for the hurricane we should move it to the driveway where it could sit on a hard surface. About the time that it looked like we should head west to our retreat area instead of waiting out the storm...the roads were closed for all high profile vehicles, trailers, etc. so we couldn't leave. As a side note, our retreat area was dealing with high winds and snow. So having said all that, here are some of the results and my thoughts:

1) Had this been a true emergency (G.O.O.D.) we would have been in real trouble as we couldn't get the RV out of the yard (she is older, 37 ft. long and 20,000 lbs. loaded). We had to call a towing service to winch her out and fortunately did so several days before the storm hit. The point? Make sure if you are using an RV as a bug out vehicle that it can actually move. Parking it off to the side somewhere might be convenient but not do so well if you need to get it out fast. The ground was solid when we originally situated her but soft when we went to move her due to recent rain and cloudy days not drying things out. Also, make sure you start all of your systems regularly as they are no different than any other piece of equipment. Heat, air, truck engine, generator, batteries, all need to be maintained and started monthly to ensure that they will work for you when you need them. Tires crack and get dry rot when not taken care of or used.

2) Because of the weight of the vehicle we had very little movement of the RV during the high winds. A couple of scary moments when gusts reached 70 mph but over all, pretty good. My complaint of how much gas she uses over the road because of her weight is no longer a complaint as the weight kept the RV grounded. We put the stabilizers down just enough to support and level but not enough to take the RV off of her tires. I keep the gas tank topped off and stabilized just in case, so always have 75 gal. of gas for driving and generator use but in a bug out situation she will only go about 400 miles on that tank. Our retreat area is 650 miles we would have to carry extra gas. Another consideration is, what if gas is used for generator power before bugging out.

3) We had heat, electricity(generator), water, food and septic when everyone around us was in darkness so things stayed normal for us. We ended up putting the RV right next to the neighbors house so we could use the RV generator to keep his septic pump, sump pumps and our freezer working (he has been so kind as to allow us to put our fully loaded freezer in his garage since the fire). Although we had over 125 gal of gas, 2- 100 lb propane tanks and kerosene, had this been of long duration we would be hoofing it out on foot after a few weeks or in a real rough camping environment. Also, our food stores are in a storage unit for the time being and would have to be left behind if we had to leave. Reality is a sobering thought.

4) If you are bugging out, get out before the roads are closed. That one is a hard decision to make as before a storm or an emergency everything seems normal and you have no idea how bad things will get or good they will be. So when do you leave? Good question and one that we are discussing for the future. We waited too long in this case and had it been catastrophic for this area we would have been part of the catastrophe. Even though we have 2 years of food and our beans, bullets and band aids in order.

5) I went to our storage unit a few hours before the storm was to start to get a couple of buckets of grain and my grain grinder, along with other supplies. While there, decided to pay the unit rent early. Inside the office the young man behind the desk was fielding calls from other storage facilities as to what to do to prepare their properties for the storm. He responded that he had no clue and told me that there wasn't anything in their manual on how to handle this sort of situation. I asked him if he had any personal supplies, he responded that he some canned food. I then asked him if he had a non electric can opener to open his cans with and he didn't think so. WOW... For those who have supplies in storage units, check to see what provisions they have in place for security in grid down scenario and for goodness sake don't let anyone know that you have food stored there. Our storage unit is a mile away and I realized that in a serious situation we would have to move those supplies quickly and quietly.

6) We were able to stay in communications with the children who live in our retreat area through texting when the phones and cell service were spotty. I was able to use my hotspot intermittently for e-mails, news and weather. We also have a hand cranked weather radio that works very well had we needed it.

7) This is off topic but I have a years supply of my blood pressure medicine. I was able to get it through an online pharmacy in Canada. They require a hand written script and communication with your physician but I get six months of name brand prescriptions for what it costs for one month here in the States. I can reorder as often as I feel the need. Just thought that might help some folks out there that are having trouble getting more than a couple of months of their medicines.

I will close this by saying that we were very blessed! This area is pretty much back online with electricity being restored, roads open, shops opening and things getting back to normal. Yes, there were/are trees down and power outages but compared to our neighboring states we fared very well. As for as our personal conversations are concerned...we thought we were reasonably prepared but realized that in spite of our preparations we are still very vulnerable and our way of life, very fragile. I don't know what conclusions will come out of our discussions but I do know that adjustments will be made.

I have really appreciated this blog and the information it contains, which I check daily. It has inspired us and educated us so that we can be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

God's Blessings to all, - Lynda H.

Dear Sir,

I am an resident of New York City and a long-time reader of your web site. I endured Hurricane Sandy without incident, but frankly, the storm poked a few holes in my urban preparedness model. Rather than provide a play-by-play account of my experiences, I want to share some of the valuable lessons I gained from this exercise in survival.

* For starters, I will acknowledge that a densely packed urban environment situated on an island (aka Manhattan) is the worst place to endure any crisis. I am surrounded by millions, many of whom would have no issue with taking from me by force, largely because they remain entirely dependent on government handouts and have little concept of independence and self-reliance. Political commentary aside, that is a real threat to my safety. That threat, coupled with the uphill battle to legally possess a firearm in the city, puts me at a strategic disadvantage should the situation degrade beyond a certain point. New York City, by its very nature, requires a vast and steady influx of resources via bridge, tunnel, and air. Cripple this transport infrastructure and the city is left helpless without provisions. Take home lesson: some locations are better are inherently superior for a survival situation – this city is not one of them.

* Fight or flight. When the reality of the storm hitting New York was largely certain, I had to make my first major decision: I either stay put and ride it out, or flee the city in advance of the storm. After careful consideration, weighing factors such as the size of the storm, my transportation options, where I could go, family and work obligations, and others, I decided to ride it out. Immediately, and without hesitation, once I committed to staying put, I was “all in” – there was no downtime at that point until I was satisfied with my planning and execution. That said, one of my next projects in my preparedness practice will be to flesh out just what my options are in leaving this city in a pinch.

* Checklists are essential. In the past, I have scoffed at maintaining a preparedness checklist on the basis that I could pretty much rattle off the items on such a checklist without much thought. But in crisis mode where my stress levels were elevated, doubt crept in. I found myself Googling various web sites for preparedness checklists since I was now second-guessing myself. Granted, I had most of what was on these lists, but I wasted valuable time and introduced doubt into my planning. Not a good start. So lesson learned, have a list, periodically review it, and refine as needed.

* If you use up any of your supplies or preps, replace them ASAP. I had no water reserves going into this storm. I had used up my water supply cache some months ago when our water filter was malfunctioning, and never replaced it. Never again. I took a three prong approach: first, I filled used water bottles, canteens, sealed containers and such and put them in the fridge. Made sense to me to use what I had first, rather than attempt to seek it out at stores. Second, I ordered some Chinese food for lunch and had them bring me several liters of water with my meal. I am not trying to sound flippant here; I was hungry, busy with final pre-storm prep work, and needed water – so I leveraged a delivery service to help me on all counts. Expanding on this point, most people flock to stores to buy water, only to scavenge the shelves bare very quickly. Restaurants, especially takeout places have generous bottled water supplies for sale, and most people wouldn’t think of is this avenue for a last ditch prepping effort, but I did. Lastly, I did venture out to a store once done with all my at-home work to literally walk among the sheep and serve as a reminder to myself to never be in this situation again.

* Beans, Band-Aids, bullets – and batteries. I was somewhat surprised when a friend of mine told me that the stores had run out of batteries. Who doesn’t stock up on batteries, I wondered. I was well stocked, and furthermore have a whole kit dedicated to small-device charging. I cannot tell you the number of people whose mobile phones were without charge and this was shortly after losing power! There are battery packs, solar chargers, adapters for charging through a laptop or car. Not to mention the basic premise of keeping your phone or other devices charged in the first place. I guess this mirrors the principle of always keeping your gas tank at least half full. Lastly, I counseled several friends of mine who were without batteries to purchase cheap consumer electronics that came with batteries – there were plenty of these sitting on shelves.

* Be prepared to leave. Everyone and their cousin has a Bug Out Bag today. Filled with survival gear, emergency rations, weapons, and the like. What about valuable and irreplaceable documents (passport, birth certificate, titles, deeds, business papers, etc.), irreplaceable computer files, cherished possessions (including cash, jewelry, precious metals). All of these are resources that may not help you survive during the actual crisis, but will certainly help you thrive after the crisis has ended. While holed up in my apartment, I went over several scenarios where I would be forced to leave. Regardless of why I would have to leave, I posed the question: assuming I had to flee with 5 minutes notice and the apartment was later destroyed, looted, or whatever – what items would allow me to rebuild my life? What was essential, and what wasn’t? I find these questions to be of great value, not only in a weather emergency, but also when applied to other, greater threat scenarios. It really forces the individual to distill their thinking to what’s vital, and what’s not. In my case, much, but certainly not all of what I would need to rebuild my life is largely portable and small. The deficiency in my case was computer backups – not portable by any practical measure, nor weather proof. This is now being rectified.

* Communication is crucial. Ahead of the storm, I contacted the important people in my life, told them I was going to stay put, and that there was a real chance the grid could go down and I could lose communications. This contact put my mind at ease, which of course makes any survival situation more endurable. Furthermore, during the storm and its aftermath, cell phone and internet service was largely disrupted. It’s an important question to answer: how do you communicate with the important people in your life when the telecom networks are degraded or down? Small things, like utilizing text messaging (or SMS) more than voice calls. An SMS will use less bandwidth than a voice call, and will never arrive garbled. Mind you, it may never arrive at all, but I found the use of SMS to be more useful than having to deal with spotty, hard-to-decipher voice calls. Technical issues aside, brevity and clarity are key. During and right after a storm are not the time to talk at length.

* Emotional health is vitally important. I had food, water, shelter, not to mention power, TV, and Internet. I was not lacking materially in any way. But while holed up at home during the storm, I was anxious, feeling unsettled, and had difficulty sleeping at night. Uncertainty, doubt, fear of the unknown – these were all forces I was battling with. Granted, this is normal as the city I live in was being battered. In truth, I thought with all my provisions and creature comforts, I would not be upset or agitated in the slightest. Reminding myself that I had taken good precautions and was well-supplied helped to assuage my concerns. Prayer or meditation may have been helpful as well, but I engaged in neither.

* Start small. My preparedness model was premised on a 3-day survival situation in a grid-down situation. It was uncomfortable mentally to fathom a prolonged disaster situation, and my role in it. I now see that burying my head in the sand is hardly the answer, and the only way to feel safe will be to expand and refine my survival model. I am now looking into preparing for incidents of greater severity and duration, one variable at time.

Sincerely, - M.D.A.

I live in Princeton, NJ with my wife and daughters, and my mother resides in our family home on the beach block in Margate, NJ (i.e., the Shore – Atlantic City area). I put together two updates for our friends. Thought they might be of interest to your readers – though I apologize for the clipped writing style.

Update # 1 – Wednesday morning. I finally slept a fair bit last night (Tuesday) and as the electronics have charged from the generator, here’s the scoop. Make no mistake Mother Nature still rules. You are going to lose the head on collision, so best to lightly sidestep her dominion whenever possible.

I prepared my family and house in Princeton, and was still surprised. I think a lot of people were, especially at the Shore. There aren’t a lot of locals left who can remember the 1944 Hurricane, and there was a much different population for the 1962 storm. From the little I have heard from my Shore friends, those who stayed regretted the decision. The Shore got crushed, power will be out for a week or more and the drinking water is compromised – there is a boil alert as well as filtration. That’s assuming they get the news. Generators are great, but few folks had them, and those that did, well let’s just say that six feet of storm surge pretty much kills your genny… as you are unlikely to have it placed much higher on the property.

Let’s come back to Princeton for the moment. I had the house pretty well fixed. Outside stuff stowed and roped, and I put two little giant pumps on the floor of the basement and rigged their hoses 75 feet out one of the basement windows. If the power went early, I had the portable gasoline driven genny on the front porch… sheltered enough to run and ventilate. Many people don’t know that your typical portable genny is not designed to operate in significant rain - though many will last for a while – there is a good chance of shorting the electrical systems and in getting shocked. I also had two 100 foot extensions cords through the front window to the basement for each. Short story – we thankfully didn’t get as much rain as was forecast. No real issue in basement.

On Monday afternoon, before any of the heavy storm impact hit, we were surprised by a knock on the door. Our neighbor lost part of his roof and is looking for tarps, caulk, tape, rope, etc. I was able to help with these items and also the contact info for our home contractor who had put out an e-mail earlier advising they were available for emergency repairs. This neighbor has a wife and three children – good family – bad sign to lose the roof before the real storm winds arrived. Told him our house is open and to let me know if he needs anything else.

While we had the utilities working, my kids were fine. Though by about 6:30 pm, the winds began to escalate dramatically. Even with the games and TV, they were nervous. It was dark and loud outside – things were flying by and the power had been flickering. At 7:00 pm power failed. By 7:30 pm, we made the decision to go down to the basement. The wind was roaring at 60-70 mph plus sustained and higher gusts in the 80’s – learned this later. So we set up an area with sleeping bags, pillows, lanterns and snacks. Our basement is unfinished – cold concrete floor – but does have shelves, storage bins, etc. I was not prepared for the fear in my kids’ eyes, nor was I expecting the knot in my chest as we could hear the house shutter and pipes rattle with the faster wind bursts.

So with all my readiness… I was still humbled and doing my best to reassure the kids that we were fine. Best decision was to give each of them a chocolate bar and burn through the charge on my wife’s laptop watching episodes of Psych – a funny detective show on TV. We had the occasional trip upstairs to go to the bathroom – no flushing without the power. We are on well water. I had water in the bathtub ready for this, but not during the height of the winds. The flashlight showed trees down, fencing gone, stuff flying and I was worried about one of our old growth trees hitting the house. No detours – bathroom and then back to the basement.

After midnight, when the winds had settled at more like 30 to 40 mph, we moved to the first floor guest bedroom. The kids nodded off with my wife and I went outside to start the genny. The temperature was dropping – though we had ample blankets for that – it was more to avoid food spoilage in the refrigerator. Most refrigerators will give you 4-6 hours unopened of decent cold. You can extend it a bit by turning the temp down pre-storm (which I did on both refrigerator and freezer), but after that… food will spoil. Freezers are better – probably 2 to 3 days if not opened - possibly more, and especially if full of food or home-made ice bags to take up the empty space.

So, in the wind and rain, and with a hat to protect against flying branches and lantern, I repositioned the genny near our exterior hard-line hookup. This is where we plug the genny into the house systems and I use the man-high garage door as the rain shield. Exhaust vents outside. Again, never run a genny in a closed garage or home – the fumes will penetrate and kill. I had just serviced and tested our genny before the storm – you need to know how these things work. Choke on, first pull and she kicked in with a reassuring hum. By 1:00 am we had power to the systems. I had to unplug items that were power drains which I forgot, but essentially as I flipped the breakers in the basement on the genny auxiliary panel and we had heat, water and power to the refrigerators/freezers. I spent the night on the living room sofa waking up every hour to walk the house looking for leaks, broken windows, and checking the genny (overheating, gas leaks, oil, venting, etc.).

Yesterday (Tuesday) is a bit of a blur. Mid-morning, I discovered that our neighbors had sheltered in their basements as well. Trees were down everywhere, roads were closed, flooding by the river, no power. Anyone without a working genny was leaving for friends and family that had one. Temps are getting colder this entire week, and then there’s food and water. I made fresh coffee for folks, offered food and then began assessing damage and clean-up. I always keep the chain saw oiled and ready from the last use, and so I put on my Kevlar chaps and began cutting trees.

Around mid-day I refueled the genny. This means shutting everything down, then pouring in the gasoline, then restart, then circuits. If you don’t, you can blow the systems starting the genny with a full electric load. I heard from one neighbor that there was access to Highway 206 via one road, and I thought about gasoline. Between chain saw and genny… it was a priority. The kids played games, saw another show on the laptop which was charged as were phones, and we had another knock on the door from another neighbor friend – April. After she got hot apple cider, food and good company she walked back to her home.

At about 3:00 pm, and before daylight sank further, I headed out for gasoline. Got about four miles, passed two police roadblocks, all traffic lights out and roads closed, and after passing my 3rd gas station that was closed with a no fuel sign, I called it a day. What was I thinking? This was a surprise to me, but should not have been. Everyone else was burning gas like crazy too. The stations were out until roads opened for refueling, and even then, the rest of NJ is in deep, so who knows how long that will take.

Returning home, I hit my emergency gasoline supply under the tarps outside – the five gallon steel safety cans had been there since last summer, but I had put Sta-Bil in the gas to keep it good beyond the usual 3 months. There are commercial grade versions that will give you years, but I don’t have access to that stuff… at least, not yet. Short story, the gasoline went into the genny and is just fine. This means I am good to go for several days with 24-hour genny use. I’ll venture out tomorrow to see if any of the gas stations are open with fuel.

Back to the Shore… I hopped onto Facebook for a few minutes. It is not easy using your mobile phone for Internet access on some web sites. On a serious note, the Shore is a mess. I was able to find out that our home still stands, but that in all likelihood has been flooded out. Our basement would be a swimming pool with all systems killed. There is 3 to 4 feet of beach sand filling the entire length of the street and from every home. High tides are still bringing in flooding, but not nearly as much as the full-moon tide on Monday. People were evacuated by chopper, the island was cut-off with all roads impassable, and clean-up will take weeks. People had live wires in their yards, short circuits in homes as water flooded, natural gas lines that need to be secured, trees down, windows broken, etc. Numerous homes, though elevated, have been hit with 2 to 4 feet of ocean water (this means mold), overnight temperatures are headed to the 30’s and 40’s this week, and they do not have any systems to boil water, etc. My mom is still evacuated, not sure when she can return. Have not heard anyone mention looting in Margate, but I did see one report in Atlantic City (though I cannot tell credibility of source). Let’s see what happens the next few days.

Going to start the day now… there’s work to be done, kids need breakfast, no school until maybe Friday, Halloween cancelled, and my wife (who is now standing beside me) says her throat is swollen and sore.

Thanks for checking in with us… I’ll send another update when I have a free moment. Internet access is spotty, but I have to say I am grateful for our Verizon portable secured 4 G Wi-fi device. It is no bigger than a cell phone and has about a six to eight hour charge capacity. But it lets us access the Net with multiple devices from anywhere. The data package is expensive for this, but in emergencies that’s not my first concern.

Storm Update #2:

Thursday morning. Yesterday, Halloween was cancelled by executive order, but I spent the day doing more clean-up anyway. Chain saw cutting, and stacking some wood for the fireplace even though green. Helped neighbors across the street who had a rental genny. Offered showers and heat as their genny is only extension cords for refrigerator and small appliances. My girls had a bit of cabin fever and it doesn’t help that my wife is not feeling good. Made tea, soup and fresh wholesome food left in the refrigerator. Also, we still have lots of kale, onions, scallions, leeks and herbs in the garden. These are my winter hardy plants that last well into the cold weather. They survived the storm winds being low to the ground and well rooted. The girls are also helping with the hand washing of the dishes… not fun.

Also took some time to walk the dog… Aslan needed a romp for his mental exercise. Spent an hour fixing the back fence so Aslan could be let outside without a leash and deer could be kept out. The fence will probably need total replacement, but at the moment, there are no gaping holes. The power drill and deck screws worked like a charm. Lots of periodic sirens – I’m guessing medical and fires related to generators/space heaters failures and accidents.

The girls don’t have school this week. We got word that power was restored late yesterday to the school, but that the roads were still impassable. There is an order from the Governor to stay off the roads unless essential travel only. It gets dark early, so by 3:30 pm things are winding down and the lanterns are on for reading and general action around the living room. I have rechargeable lanterns and battery throw away… no issue for now.

The temperature all day yesterday was cool and very chilly by evening. People without power were warming themselves in their cars. On Aslan’s evening walk, I could see the car headlights in various driveways. I think it also let people charge cell phones. This brings up the glaring problem for the moment – gasoline. Our genny is doing very well on gas consumption… but between it and the chain saw, we are burning a fair amount. Same with the neighbors, and especially the ones using the cars for heaters. The town has opened the Rec/Senior centers for temporary warmth and water – but not after 8:00pm. Don’t know how many people are driving to use these facilities. Anyway, back to gas. While I used on/off shutdowns for the genny for a few hours of the time to save gas – I had the living room fireplace raging yesterday – this is not optimal especially for the refrigerators. Yesterday, I heard from two neighbors that they had found open gas stations with ridiculous lines and rationing. As it was getting late, I opted to stay home and deal with it today.

Woke up today (Thursday) at 6:30 am, and headed out with 4 five gallon safety cans looking for open gas stations. The Traffic lights were still out and only the main artery roads are dependable to be open. I was lucky to find two gas stations within 5 miles of the house. Gas stations that were open yesterday were now empty of gas. As to these two that were open, they already had lines of cars 50 deep. They also had police officers enforcing the lines, gas rationing (10 gallon maximum per person) and general traffic flow order. It took me and hour plus, and it was cash only as I expected, but I started home with 20 gallons of gas. I thought about coffee on the way, and pulled into our main shopping center with a Thomas Sweet, or in the alternative, a Dunkin Donuts in the ShopRite Supermarket. The entire center was closed. ShopRite was open with minimal lighting and I had hope, but when I got to the door, there was a sign saying they only had non-perishable items for sale. The mini-Dunkin Donut stand was closed. By the way, we are hearing from other supermarkets… same story. They cooked what they could, donated to soup kitchens and have thrown out the rest of the spoiled food. At this point, I think Whole Foods on Route 1 may be our best bet for fresh food. As you guys know, I have plenty of non-perishables. And yes, I do have organic coffee at the house, so I am enjoying a cup as I type. I just have to unplug other stuff to brew it.

I am breaking to refill our genny with gas. Next agenda once things warm up is to get the fireplace going, and then I will rig up extension cords so that we can do laundry for the first time since Sunday morning. Bear in mind, my genny is only hard-wired into the home for critical systems, and that didn’t include the washer and dryer. So I will need to power them and the house water system – should be fine – but they are energy hogs.

We also got word that five nuclear power plants had issues during the storm, and that Salem actually had a “controlled” emergency steam release and pump failures. Nice. I’m sure it was only safe levels of radiation, no harm to the public. Right. Oyster Creek was offline anyway, but had cooling issues with the spent fuel pool. I’m assuming that the state and Federal folks are on top of this. Hopefully.

The update on the Shore is pretty dim. We still don’t have good onsite intel. Island access is closed and the residents are upset/trapped. On the positive side, there are parts of Margate with power. There is limited non-perishable food and no fresh items, and water remains contaminated. Some areas are still flooded – though its draining. Ventnor City which is right next to Margate, is sealed off due to city septic failure and more than 1,000 homes with moderate to severe damage. We have received limited pictures of our home from locals and a Sheriff friend. The sand is piled against the house three feet deep which means the six feet of water on top of that probably got into the entire first floor and basement. All critical systems will be trashed. We are beginning the process of talking to contractors and getting mom situated at a nearby hotel to make daily trips to the home to coordinate. She’s upset, but holding up - tough nut.

Cheers. I mean that: single malt whiskey does not need refrigeration, is good for brushing teeth and warms the soul. - Bill H.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Four Letters Re: Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports
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Good day, Mr Rawles...

Here in West Virginia, we have experienced a wide variety of weather from Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. Last Friday, it began raining well ahead of storm making landfall. Rains continued off and on thru the weekend, gradually increasing in steady rains all day Sunday and well into Monday. Around 7 pm our local time, that rain turned to snow and that's when things began to get interesting.

I tend to be a light sleeper so it was the 'sound' of power going off at 2:34 am on Saturday morning that awakened me for the day. I got coffee started with the percolator then sat by a window watching and listening as trees and branches snapped due to winds and the weight of a foot of heavy, wet snow that fell since dark the night before. Once your eyes have a few minutes to adjust to the sudden darkness, it is quite uncanny how aware of things you become. Sounds are amplified, movements are detected more quickly, response time to your surroundings are automatic, perhaps mechanical in a way. I think I like this!

As of this writing (Friday), we do not have power nor do we expect it to be restored anytime soon. On top of the more than 2 feet of heavy, wet snow that Sandy delivered, there are literally hundreds of trees and power lines down throughout the state. Our county suffered structural damage to some main power stations (including transformers). Yesterday, I was told by the Dept. of Highways that the county road about a mile from our house would not be plowed due to downed power lines. At the same time, the power company stated they could not begin to work on electric lines when the roads had not been cleared. Go figure!

For us, our preps and food on hand prior to the storm will keep us sustained for a very long time. Heat is not an issue. We have free natural gas on our property, plus more than one heat system that does not require electricity to function. Water is also not an issue. We have a gravity fed spring, not a well, that does not require electricity to get our water. Cisterns collect thousands of gallons of this pure water and gravity flow delivers it to our home. Water pressure isn't optimal (like having city water) but it's a reliable clean water source (one of many). I can live without being pressure washed in the shower. We have not yet finished our secondary power source installation for maintain electricity but it is still in the works. Currently, we run our generator 2-3 times a day for a couple of hours at a time to keep the freezers and inside refrigerator cold. We keep fuel topped off at all times as well as have plenty of other fuel sources on hand for lights, cooking or whatever else might arise. After the first 2 days following the storm, we were able to clear paths to the main roads and can still get to town for things if needed.

About five months ago, our area endured an unexpected, black-swan weather event (a derecho) over the summer. Five counties in this area were completely black and without electricity. It left thousands without power for days, some even weeks. Our electric was out for more than 10 days in a 100 degree heat wave. I would much rather endure loss of power during winter than summer. That event left many without food and water simply because they failed to heed even the basic guideline of having a minimum of 72 hours worth of food and water on hand in the event of a crisis. Folks did not connect (in their brains) that a lack of power to the city water systems would result in their water supply to suddenly stop flowing. They questioned why didn't the city just have generators in place to take up the slack (they did). These same people also didn't realize lack of power meant no way to pump fuel to power the generators. Panic ensued from many who finally realized their ATM, debit/card cards weren't going to work. The shock of businesses not accepting checks, only cash for payment of goods or services was enough to bring out the 'zombiesque' in many people. I was prepared to begin canning hundreds of pounds of meat, etc. even with the summer heat, rather than throw it away. Many people I talked to hadn't even thought about canning and these are people who grow gardens and routinely do some food preservation each season. Duh-mazing! Fortunately, we were able to keep enough fuel on hand for the generators in order to prevent such loss.

Superstorm Sandy was not a sudden surprise. There were many advanced warnings. Local, state and federal officials spent hours on television, radio and Internet pleading with those in harms way to evacuate or be fully prepared to hunker down with sufficient supplies for possibly a long while. In our area, we are used to snow storms...bad ones are not uncommon here. Yet, people still fail to plan or prepare, fully expecting someone to come rescue them when the going gets tough. The term 'normalcy bias' immediately comes to mind.

Now, we are in the middle of another natural disaster and there are still plenty of people who are clamoring about officials not having some kind of plan in place for everyone. These are the same folks who were demanding they get their food replaced from the summer storm losses. There are people in our area (and others) who do not even have enough common sense to make a natural, outdoor cooler from all this snow to their cold/frozen goods in for preservation. I have been continually shocked at the complete absence of critical thinking, especially from folks who I really thought 'knew better'.

I read recently that a first responder in the New York/New Jersey area said, "We simply cannot save people from themselves." I don't believe I fully realized just how critical mindset is in a SHTF situation until now. Sure, I talked about it, saw things first hand with how mindless and crippled society has become but I never really grasped the brevity of that until this storm. Granted, this is not a TEOTWAWKI situation or even a long term SHTF event (thus far). We are fine in our supplies and, thank the Lord, have not endured loss other than some structural issues with our farm fencing due to falling trees. Our current setup is better than most but yet it is very painful to see other human beings suffer, often times simply due to their failure to do anything to protect themselves or their family.

For those of you out there who are still reading and planning but not yet doing anything, please, please, please get off that carousel of inaction and begin putting that gray matter to use! Don't be one of those people who freeze up during a catastrophe or one of those who crawl back into bed, hoping they will wake up and everything will be okay. You have been awakened for a time and a purpose. Don't waste the opportunity to do better for yourself and your loves ones. Just remember, "indecision is still a decision". Are you ready? - C.A.T., the Transparent Shepherdess

Good Morning,
We faired very well, thanks to our preparations, which were enhanced by the knowledge gained from your fantastic web site these last several years. Being “old Yankees” farm raised, we always knew that we needed to be as self-sufficient as possible. We have thirteen older house cats, one feral outside, and one of our cats is insulin dependent. Hence keeping his insulin at proper temperature is very important. We have standard size refrigerator/freezer, a smaller one, and a small upright freezer. We always have frozen freezer packs and containers of ice and many thick foam coolers, so we are set for many days. Sterno stove is great for warming and even cooking, as well as backup with twig camp stove, small pellet camp stove and charcoal grill. We ate very well: grass fed beef, organic vegetables from local farm, and have months worth of No. 10 cans or all kinds of food and MREs. Hundreds of gallons of drinking and flushing water as we are on a well. Filled up both cars before the storm hit, and being retired no need to go anywhere, nor plans to do so.

The living room has propane gas stove and three 100 gallon propane tanks. We just completed installation of 15,000 watt Wenco generator and 500 gallon propane tank. The “maiden voyage” of Wally Wenco and Polly Propane was 100% effective, plus we were able to provide basic services to the tenants in the 1200 sq. ft. guest house. Neighbors notified they could come for hot shower, etc. if need be after the storm. We ran the Wenco only a few hours AM & PM, to conserve propane. Had plenty of flashlights, batteries, two crank radios, hundreds of books, hundreds pounds of dry and canned cat food, and the “means” to defend ourselves. So, these two old ladies were just fine, and the year before had 22 trees removed from near the house on this almost four acre lot in a small town, so the house was safe! Power went out Monday afternoon and came back Wednesday night.

Because we have always been financially frugal, maintain our older vehicles, and do not spend our money on fancy electronics, clothes, etc., we were able to upgrade our survival comfort with the propane generator. We know that a long term survival in a true TEOTWAWKI for us is not possible, but we have that covered also, especially as just a few miles from us is a nuclear plant. Were we a few decades younger, we would be living in the American Redoubt, because we have “knowledge” that would be useful, and physically be able to survive. We are still trying to convince our younger relatives to be more prepared, because someday we will not be around, though they know that our long term food and other supplies are a legacy we can leave them for America’s uncertain future! - L.H. in Lyme, CT

Good morning. If still of use to your readers, here’s Storm Update #3 for Princeton and Margate City, NJ, that I just sent to our friends.

Friday morning. No power still.

Yesterday, after my early run for gasoline, we did the first laundry since Sunday. I cranked open the window and rigged up the extension cords to the genny. Our daughters hardly issued a complaint with helping to fold – a chore they dislike – but under the circumstances, I’m guessing there’s something extra nice about fresh, warm, clean clothes. I continued cleaning-up the property and then helped my wife (Steph) make lunch. We heard back from our eldest daughter’s piano and singing teachers… they were willing to accommodate lessons cancelled by the storm if we could get there. Both are within a few miles of the house and a minute away from each other. The piano teacher gives lessons from her home and the singing teacher uses a local Church. Both had power restored. Needing a break of normalcy, my wife and I agreed. I would stay at the house with our youngest, while she ventured with the other. My wife was also going to see if the local farmer’s market was open.

Steph went to the farmer’s market and did her first ever shopping by flashlight. There was a line, and the store was allowing five people in at a time with an employee escort for each with flashlight to assist with shopping. Cash payment only. They only had non-perishables and the shelves were sparse. Several items she wanted – mostly soups – were gone. She did find a wonderful organic butternut squash soup among other groceries, and a bag of carrots. These were part of our dinner mix last night. On the way there, she sadly observed the destruction around Princeton. Trees down everywhere, debris, cars and houses hit, but lots of lucky falls as well – a few feet in either direction and the tree damage would have been far worse for many people.

In the afternoon, mail was delivered. I spoke at length with our delivery person. The workers that had reported for duty were sorting mail by lantern/flashlight, first class was backed-up for this week, and if they didn’t find more gasoline, mail would not be delivered for a few days even if the power was restored.

About an hour later, our next door neighbor knocked… they were leaving to find a hotel. This is a neurologist who works at a major medical center. Not wealthy, but he could have afforded a house generator system if like minded. I offered our home (these are also good folks), but they didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. They simply asked that I text them when power returns. Coincidentally, I checked in via mobile text with my best friend from Maplewood, NJ, telling him my concern that all of our neighbors were vanishing to hotels or extended family, and the reply text stated that he was in a hotel in Philadelphia with his family.

So, at this point, we have three categories of people. Those without generators who left days ago, those who have generators but not hooked up to the critical systems (leaving for lack of water, food, sanitation, heat, etc.) and those with hard-wired generators staying put as long as the natural gas flows or gasoline is available. Remember, these aren’t hardy country folk or preppers. They aren’t used to
We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists. - Patrick Henry


Three Letters Re: Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports
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Let me first say we are doing well compared to the rest of the folks here on Long Island , NY . I am no hard core prepper but believe strongly that the need is there. We are in Nassau County and are served by LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority. As I write there are about 300,000 people here without power. Some of the things I have witnessed are very sad indeed and we were blessed to have our power back within two days.

South of where we live along the water the houses have had their basements flooded out. Even with prior storms my in-laws who live near the water had their basement flooded to the ledger board on their foundation. The water has never gotten that high since they have lived there for over fifty years. Everything in their basement was ruined. They had built up a sand berm but the water kept coming and then rushed into the basement, carrying the sand with it. Note to self, use sand bags. Upon entering their neighborhood the people were all on the streets taking their ruined belongings and bringing them to the curb. Everyone of them as I drove by had the “Thousand Yard Stare” made famous in pictures and photographs from World War II. We were able to give my in-laws our generator after they returned to their house. They bugged out to a hotel in a dry area of Long Island . Their Hotel lost power for a day.

Things that got us through the storm.

Over the past few years we have removed large trees that, had they fallen the right way, would have cut out house in two. We have three pre-teens and could not have dealt with their loss. After both my wife and I grew up near open water and the associated wind that can come off the water we learned not to have overhanging trees. While the shade generated from them cut out cooling bills, it’s just not worth it if you, or god forbid, your loved ones lose their life.

You need a generator (period)
Get a generator strong enough to power your refrigerator, a radio and a few lights. This saved us from having to throw out our newly purchased foods. We are fortunate to have both an old refrigerator (which seems to last much longer than the new ones with planned obsolescence built in, we are never getting rid of it) and a new one. The new one has better insulation. So what we did was take the ice from the ice maker and kept it in the freezer in zip-lock bags. This helped us build us the cooling thermal mass. We kept on letting the ice maker make more ice and put it in bags rather than letting the trip bar stop the ice making. If you think you don’t need a generator then get one anyway when there is a sale because someone you know will need it and being charitable may save someone’s life. After the storm here it got down into the 30’s and people froze in their houses.

Stock up on gasoline and stabilize it before the storm.
The Coast Guard shut the ports in NY which supply gasoline here and there are now huge lines for gas. We had about fifteen gallons in the garage and used about half of it before our power came back and we gave the rest to the in-laws to power their pumps to pump out their basement. We could have used a lot more gasoline. (check your local ordinances for storage limits) Again, learning from this instance, if you live in a low-lying area, rethink what you have in your basement. It was never this bad before and they lost everything in their basement.

Digitize every picture of sentimental value.

On the local news channel most people returned to their home to see if they could salvage any pictures. I can not tell you how sad I found this. If you are like some of my relatives and have, over the years amassed footlockers full of pictures maybe outsourcing is a good solution. Since we take digital pictures now, we save them on our hard drive and back them up to an external one terabyte USB hard drive. If we ever had to bug out we’d just take the USB drive and boogey.

Emergency food
Emergency food has helped us out. We went the canned route and slowly purchased canned meals like Ravioli with Meatballs and had them in-hand for use. We need to work on this as we were running out of milk and a few other items for the kids (lessons learned).


While camping this Summer in New England we went pretty deep into the Maine woods to Baxter State Park . There was no running water and we had to carry it in with the pickup. We used hanging bag showers to clean ourselves and we carried in about 10 gallons of water for a couple of days. Get yourself a good storage container for clean water. We used two five gallon Coleman water containers but a few milk containers with screw-on lids (Sterilized) would have helped.


While it could have gotten to an apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI situation here the big drama on “The Island” was as the gas pumps with fights breaking out as people tried to cut each other in line. One man was arrested for taking out a pistol. There is and was looting in other areas where homes are damaged and abandoned. Thankfully I did not have to rely on all the NRA patches I earned when I was a kid (I got to Barr III )


Batteries and power for “Crackberries” were a pretty big story here. In New York City people who had power ran power lines to the street to let others charge their cell phones. I use a battery back up pack for my phone and fill it with four double-a rechargeable batteries and keep them charged at all times. Link .This doubles my battery life but when the area lost power…so did the cell towers. So I’ll be studying for the Ham technician license. We have four hand held FRS walkie talkies that my son won in a Boy Scout Raffle a few years ago and it did not get to the point where we needed them. But they are great fun to use in the shopping mall to find your lost kids at no cost.

Walkability is how friendly your area is to walking. If you have to travel everywhere by car…in our current situation with gas shortages you’d be walking everywhere to get your food and supplies. While this has great health benefits you may end up burning more calories than you can take in. Get a bike and a hand operated bike pump with either a rack or basket to carry items. I need to get a hand operated air pump as I’ve been relying on the air compressor and it never occurred to me.

Psychological lessoned learned

Having survived the horrific scenes of 9/11 and losing many former colleagues (another story for another day) and of the 2004 blackout here in NY, I learned that yes, you have to get your news from the media but if you watch the TV 24/7 you will lose your mind and get really really depressed. Get up from the “Idiot Box” as my parents used to call it and “Move a muscle and change a thought”. Getting up and around rather than hunkering down in your foxhole makes you feel “Big and Strong”.

Flaws and future plans

What I have learned is that a lot of people here needed our help. My in-laws come for dinner every night. They needed my generator when I was done with it. Our friends needed our extra heaters as they got their power back but their boiler (in the basement) was trashed and could not heat their house. Plan on being generous. Maybe someday it will come back to you as you have paid it forward.

I need to reconsider where we live. Right now I am unemployed from the financial community here in NY and have worked in Project Management and I am PMP certified. Hopefully the wife and kids will buy-in to the idea. Being a conservative in NY has not suited me well. My father had his life saved by a Naval Scholarship as his dad died at an early age from sclerosis of the liver (as my friend Bill says, he never took the first step).
I tried to join the Military but was unable to pass the physical due to a slight limp, I still got my pilots license though. I have not flown since 1995.

Hopefully my Project Management Experience will be able to help me pick up a job in another field somewhere safe. I have worked in banking and software development as a project manager and business analysis. I have traded for the worlds largest commodities firm (at the time) and know a bit about financial derivatives. Enough to know that it’s not the product but the greed behind it that ruins everything. So long as a trading desk is very profitable everybody in management leaves them alone. I’ve seen some pretty smart people (on paper) “Blow-up” and lose everything and then I’ve seen some pretty “street smart” kids make a killing.

In summation, while I’m no hard core prepper, I got by with the help from God and family. The 5 P’s are burned into my memory like a scar. Proper Preparation Produces Perfect Performance. Yes, I know there are derivatives of this saying. I was very happy to help other people. Because as soon as I got out of feeling sorry for myself I was able to feel great in helping others. This by the way has saved my life in another aspect. I’m an alcoholic and if I had not learned the lessons I had over half a decade ago things would have only gotten worse in this tragedy and I would not have my wits about me nor my family as they would have left many years ago.

I hope this has helped you. Best, - One Lucky Guy (and family).

Dear Rawles Family,
I have been an avid reader of your blog for about seven years. You actually recently featured a link on your blog to my radio show on blog talk radio called The Homeschool Homemaker where I discussed what Homeschoolers and Homemakers can learn from Preppers. I followed that with a radio show on how to prep for Sandy. I will be doing a follow up show shortly as the power was just now restored after being out for six days.

Your blog has changed my life.

The Good Lord Almighty and you are responsible for two proud moments in my life this last week. One, when I walked into Sam's Club last Saturday morning among HUNDREDS of people in full fledged panic and a smart alec greeter at the door said snidely "If you are here for supplies we are out of generators, water, batteries and lots of other stuff." I was able to just as smugly say back to him, "Then I guess it is a good thing that I already have those things on hand at home." He looked genuinely shocked. I spent the next two hours avoiding panic stricken mobs, taking my children through the store and teaching them what they should have on hand at all times and forcing them to watch other people's behavior. I told them what they could use as substitutes. I was able to get together a large list of wants (these were not needs as if I had to I could have survived at home, just not in luxury) and provisions for expected/unexpected guests. I shudder to think of what was going through the minds of those who needed those supplies and couldn't find them anywhere. Those poor people.

The second was when we were able to provide shelter to some friends who badly needed it. They said it was like coming to a luxury hotel, and were able to take warm showers, have a large hot meal and tuck themselves and their children into warm beds. It was a joy. They remarked upon seeing how we were weathering things, "You are the most prepared people I have ever met!". It was an honor to show hospitality in the name of the Lord in a time of trouble.

Here are some things I can share that may help my fellow readers.

1. Preparedness needs to be consistent, constant and progressive.
Had I waited till just the threat of Sandy was here I would not have been prepared to the level of comfort, maybe only to the level of survival.
For the last seven years we have moved, purchased and trained guard dogs, increased security, tucked ourselves into a small and preparedness minded community (hard to find for NJ) and slowly accumulated high quality items with long term preparedness goals in mind. This cannot be done in a week, not even in a month. It makes a HUGE difference.

2. Everything you say is true regarding the progression of things. It truly progressed in that fashion. People ignored the warnings, then were terrified when the storm hit, then panicked when they saw the aftermath. It is heartbreaking to see and I am not even in that immediate area. In my immediate area it is more that the cold and frustration was taking over, but the few neighbors who were not prepared quickly got out of town or found a way to manage. This is not what is happening in other areas.
There is widespread looting. There is genuine hunger, thirst and terror. Others are moving from place to place as they don't want to be a burden. Prices are skyrocketing and people seem to have lost the good sense God gave them. This is not where the storm damage is, it is just where the power is out!

3.We had an attempted break in on my street last night that happened within five minutes of the Husband leaving. Dogs stopped it. Someone tried my doors the night before. My dogs stopped it. The day after the storm my neighborhood was inundated with people looking for work or just looking. My guard dogs took care of that, but scams and criminals abound in even the areas not hard hit. If you have a choice between a security system and dogs, go with the dogs every time.

I will just say that many times when I have read here I have had a hard time accepting all of your advice. Thinking things would never progress that quickly or that bad. I was wrong. Just days in, you had to be very careful who knew you had hot water. People were starting to remark on who seemed to be living the high life and who wasn't. You can see where this can quickly go.

Thanks to you, I was frying up chicken with mashed potatoes and drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream the day after the hurricane hit. I assumed we would not be able to leave the house as we would have to guard the generator and we were able to hold tight nearly a week now.

Of course now the shelves are all bare and the pumps are being rationed AND we have a huge snow storm coming. I am sorry for those who will lose even more.

This has helped me practice many preps, test them out and clarified places for improvement. People who mocked are now listening. People who thought that security wasn't an issue if you "didn't live in that type of area" have come to the horrifying realization that people who want to break in don't have to live next to you to be a danger.

I am afraid we are in for much more because of the snow storm coming, but we shall see.

Thank you for all you do! - The Homeschool Homemaker

I’m grateful to you for sharing my post-Sandy updates. There is a “comfort” in reaching people. Here is Storm Update # 5:

Sunday morning. Relationships. They matter more than ever in an emergency. Yesterday, we burned through the decent firewood. We are now down to the rot. Before Sandy, I had contacted a landscaper to remove this stuff to make space for a new load. However, it fell to the wayside, in part because I had other priorities, and also because I was using this junk wood in our backyard fire pit. I logged in a call to the contractor who had provided us with firewood for the last seven years – his Fall advertisement was still on my desk. He remembered us, and though he was delivering in upstate Pennsylvania with orders backed-up, he understood the circumstances here and promised to deliver a heaping cord tomorrow. I thanked him, and headed out to clean-up our wood stack. This took several hours. The rot went into the mulch piles, which left two empty six by six inch railroad ties clear for the new wood. I also repositioned our eight-foot metal fireplace holder. Good to go.

Next, I turned to refilling the genny. I was mixing the stabilized emergency gasoline that had been under the tarp since last Spring, with the new gasoline I had obtained Friday. Normally, I would do first in, first out, but I didn’t want to risk the genny with bad fuel. While pouring the gas, our neighbor from behind the house (Mike) surprised me with a visit. He lives on a different street, and our last encounter had been testy as he had attempted to dig a drainage line over our property without permission. Don’t get me wrong, we resolved that episode. He had apologized, laying the blame on his contractor. Without rehashing the details, suffice to say that this was a knowing incursion onto our property. Still, I was of a mind to let there be peace.

Mike and I chatted for a while. He was cooking the last of his freezer meat on the barbecue – thus he had seen me – and was also a bit freaked. Though our prior encounter had not been the warmest, he was looking for camaraderie. Most of the neighbors on his side were also gone, and he never imagined that power-down could happen for a week in NJ! His genny, like ours, was also wired into critical systems. He had gasoline issues, food supplies in his basement and a baseball bat by the bed. He and his wife were “creeped out” at night. They had signed up for firearm instruction, but that was next month. Short story – I extended the olive branch, and told him I’d watch his back and to let me know if he needs anything. He agreed to do the same for us. I didn’t give him every detail on our situation, but enough. Relationships – they do matter. Perhaps one can be an island as a “prepper” in a hardened bunker in the Redoubt, but in my experience the folks that truly understand survival always acknowledge that it takes cooperation by a team of like-minded adults and children.

While I was busy at the house, my wife (Steph) was making a run to Whole Foods to see about fresh food. We got word through our friends on Twitter that the store was open, had generator power and had received a delivery. I reminded her that as the pet store was in the same shopping center, try to buy whatever bags they had available of Aslan’s dry dog food. I had bought two 20-pound bags pre-Sandy, but he’s a 70 pound shepherd and he rips through the chow.

Steph returned a few hours later with groceries. The entire shopping center was dark except Whole Foods. Fortunately, the pet store owners had set up a table outside and were walking customers in one at a time with a flashlight – cash only of course. She bought their last 20-pound bag and a few chewy treats.

Goods were unloaded, dishes hand washed, fireplace stoked, lanterns checked (fresh batteries for the non-rechargeables), dog walked and dinner cooked. Steph had purchased a mashed cauliflower side from Whole Foods, but upon sampling it in the pan with the onions, she tossed it. Spoiled. Lesson learned… she would ask for a taste at the store before buying any prepared items. After dinner - it’s dark, cold and windy – I did the genny refueling for the night, and observed that it was running a hair rougher to my ear. Note to self: could be the fuel mix, but six days of 24-hour running means that tomorrow I need to check the oil, carburetor, fuel line, etc.

Turning to the Shore, and a bit of positive news: I confirmed that mom had checked into the hotel. Eventually, we spoke via the mobile. Her phone battery charger had died the other day and she was otherwise busy with contractors, insurance adjusters, FEMA reps, etc. She had brought enough food with her from Pennsylvania, and in South Jersey, gasoline was not as much of a problem. As for our family home on the beach block, pretty much as expected. The garage had four feet of sand, the doors were destroyed from the waves and everything inside was history. The basement of the home (which is more like a first floor due to the home’s elevation) was trashed, a total loss of all systems (HVAC, pumps, washer, dryer, electrical, freezer, etc.). There was a foot of sand to dig out and everything will have to be removed to the foundation before the mold gets a grip. Thankfully, the first floor and above - having been built high in 1938 and all windows boarded-up for Sandy - suffered minimal damage. Mom told me that the local supermarket will not open for several days, but that other stores are beginning to show signs of life. The overall damage to the City is huge, and there is a foul “smell” in the air. She will do the back-and-forth from the house to the hotel until things are repaired. The only dependable contractor that has been helping her is the carpenter that our family has known for decades. Again, it’s all about relationships.

This isn’t the most riveting update, but life is all about the little things. Sometimes they take more energy than we imagine, and it wears you down. Our family realizes that our situation is so much better than that of others in NJ and NY, as well as other regions of the country. In part, that’s through our decisions and actions, but luck also plays a role. I’m told that power should be restored today, and that although our daughters’ school has one building without power or fire alarms, the main building will be open for classes tomorrow – Monday.

Best wishes to all. This might be the last update – in a good way. - Bill H.

Two Letters Re: Hurricane Sandy After Action Reports
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I am a native New Yorker who has lived in the city for more than 30 years. As much as I would like to live elsewhere safer, I still very much love the city and have to remain here because of work and my mother. The recent devastation left by Sandy wreaked havoc in the city. You can read about plenty of details on the hurricane from the news and other posts so I'm just going to keep this post short based on some of the problems encountered that were unique to an urban environment. In addition to the basic necessities of being prepared, I would like to add some further precautions that can be utilized to help minimize some future problems that can occur in a highly populated city such as New York.

• Electronics/communications: Many people who were in downtown Manhattan had no power and these days, we are tied to our cell phones, laptops, etc. They had to travel uptown in desperation to charge their lifeline. Without a cell phone, there would be no way for many people to contact anyone. Having an extra external charger would've been handy along with another charger that utilizes AA batteries as part of their emergency kit will make a good last resort back up.
• Money: ATMs were down in certain places and because there was no power, restaurants and stores only accepted cash. If you had no cash and the ATM wasn't working or was empty, you weren't getting anything. Always have some cash on hand.
• Gas: This was a big problem since many people from surrounding areas had no gas due to power outages and so people from New Jersey, Long Island were driving to NYC to fill up. People waited more than 3 hours in line for gas. There was a lot of tension and anxiety caused by a gas shortage. Many gas stations were eventually closed when there was no gas left. My girlfriend had the foresight to remind me to fill up on gas before the storm hit so this should be a good lesson to fill up and stock up in advance of a possible disruption.
• Transportation: The lifeline of New York was cut off since trains were flooded along with extensive damage to the rails and tunnels. There was major traffic lasting hours since it created a bottleneck effect at the bridges that were open. There was also chaos at shuttle bus stops everywhere. Many buses were full and simply bypassed many passengers who were waiting for hours to get on and the city put restrictions by creating carpool lanes into Manhattan with a 3 passenger minimum. Any less and you would have been turned away. This turned what normally would have been a 30 minute commute into a three hour commute. Having a bike or being able to walk for long distances would eliminate the dependency on cars and public transportation.
• Of course, other typical events related to post disaster scenarios occurred (especially in poor neighborhoods like Coney Island) such as: food/water shortages and looting.

A great tragedy occurred in this great city. I hope that people here will start to wake up and become more self sufficient. Those who were spared have been given another chance to do better for themselves and their families in the future. For those who were directly affected, we all pray for your quick recovery. May peace be with you all - A.I.K.

Dear James,
Greetings from New Jersey and thank you for your fantastic blog. My power was not restored until Sunday after losing it one long week ago.

Survival preps, i.e. food, water definitely not a problem for me. Between frozen food,cans and home canned then long term food in Mylar and pails, I can go a year or more. This hurricane is a great "dry run" and those that endured devastation, my heart and prayers go out to them.

On the other hand, so many don't even have the simple things a day or too. Simple things like filling the car or truck fuel tank before the storm, or getting a few more batteries. As the storm hit, I sat back, having gotten my sick elderly mom from the New Jersey shore, made contact with friends and relatives to try and get out of harm's way. The power went out very early and within lays a comfort level knowing you can provide for you and your family.

Sitting around the table listening to the hand crank radio under the glow of the Coleman lantern. As the wind howled communications failed. Cell towers along the coast ceased. Roads closed throughout the state. Those with cell phones had no way to charge them if cell service was available.

As our procedure, the emergency two way radios were put into use. At midnight I heard the call signal and a brief verbal check in. We would monitor and contact every 8 hours. Communications are very important. Even someone's a quarter mile away might as well be in Europe during an emergency, without communication, and a source of immediate back up or help if needed.

As the storm hit us harder, we lost contact with friends and family throughout the night. Communications can not be stressed enough.

The next morning, reports of devastation along the coast, of millions of people without power, without water and food. I'm sure not everyone believes in prepping for a year or more, but please, some cannot even feed themselves for two days without demanding that Uncle Sam must help them.

Within the day, people realized that without gas, you can't drive or run generators. Without generators, no gas at the gas stations. Yes I personally saw lines at the few gas stations with gas and open over a mile long. Society was breaking down after just 24 hours.

Milk could not be delivered, no diesel for the trucks. Milk could not be picked up at the farms, again, no fuel. I ask, doesn't anyone prepare?

During the day Tuesday, I get a radio message, rumor has it there is some looting, and its time to lock and load. So be it.

During the frost two days, you would hear generators running day and night. I thought to myself they must have huge amounts of fuel. In order to conserve, I would run it for few hours, shut it off and run it again. One by one, you heard the generators go silent. By conserving, 50 gallons would last for a month or more.

As for eating, oh my, we ate terrifically. Long slow cooked meals and knowing, it would be a long time before we ran out. And yes, there would be lots of rice and beans in the future, but not yet.

As of today, sunday, there still is no fuel available. Food distribution is at a stand still.

What have I learned. Fuel s critical. If you don't have it, you won't get it.

Cell phones become useless when the power s down. Alternate communications are a must. With that a thought. If the government became abusive, how would you spread the word? How would you get pictures out so others can see? Internet was not available locally and can be shut down at will by the government.

Have backups. My transistor radio stopped working. The crank up took its place.

Be ready to move fast. New York City was locked down. Tunnels and bridges closed. Have a way to travel and avoid check points.

People have lost everything and many more are suffering. Learn what you can from these warnings.

God bless America and pray for out country on Tuesday. - Rich S.
We should not forget that the spark which ignited the American Revolution was caused by the British attempt to confiscate the firearms of the colonists. - Patrick Henry

Good read...The one about the guy in suburban philadelphia who has the RV and wanted to bug out to another location once things started looking bad only to find the roads closed and escape impossible makes me wonder why people wait until the last minute to leave.

A co-worker in NJ who lives near the ocean essentially said the same thing. They decided to ride it out in their home which is 0.5 miles from the ocean, and he said when it started "looking really bad" he tried to leave only to find everything flooded and escape impossible. He was stuck on the second floor of his house for about 24 hours until he was rescued...

I can sort of see the "riding it out" mentality of the RV owner since he was well inland, but for people who were in the direct path of this and live near water I don't get it...
glocke12, proud to be a member of since Sep 2012.
Survival log of Valorius, Hurricane Sandy:

Sat on sofa and watched TV. Power went out for about 30 seconds. Brand new double plane insulated hurricane windows never even so much as rattled.

It was terrifying....

We had some wind, some rain. Watched the weather station for updates, baked bread.
This was my experience in Louisiana as well.
Quote:...As with Katrina, Sandy reminded me of just how fragile the veneer of civilization that most most city-dwellers often take for granted truly is...
Subject matter expert on questions no one's asking.
Valorius;36669 Wrote:Survival log of Valorius, Hurricane Sandy:

Sat on sofa and watched TV. Power went out for about 30 seconds. Brand new double plane insulated hurricane windows never even so much as rattled.

It was terrifying....

I spit on my Screen! Lollerz
Life is terminal, get over it!!! 124
Daycrawler, proud to be a member of since Sep 2012.
I basically just copied and pasted my survival blog from the hurricane we had last year. LOL...

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